Commissioning and planning the workforce

Our practical guidance will help you to understand the workforce aspects of your commissioning responsibilities.  

Workforce is the biggest input in delivering care and support. As part of your market shaping responsibilities, you need to consider, with providers, the skills, knowledge and roles needed to provide local services that people want and need.

We can help you to analyse local workforce needs, give you advice about working with providers to build the skills and knowledge of the workforce, and, where necessary, plan workforce interventions to build confidence, capability and capacity.

Individual service fund workforce guide

An Individual Service Fund (ISF) is one way of managing a personal budget, where someone who needs care and support chooses an organisation to manage the budget on their behalf.

The organisation will help to plan support services and activities that will help them to achieve their identified outcomes. This requires more flexible contracting between commissioning authorities and providers, and creative person-centred support planning to use personal budgets.

Following a pilot project in South West England our new guide shares key workforce learning and benefits of ISFs; how to introduce and implement them and how to overcome some of the challenges, as well as some of the learning and development implications.

If you’re considering being involved in ISF’s download our guide to find out more information.

Qualifications can help you to ensure that you have the right skills and knowledge to do your job well.

The Level 5 Certificate in Fundamental Knowledge in Commissioning for Wellbeing (RQF) has been developed to support current and aspiring commissioners in achieving a rich, diverse and sustainable market of provision. 

Praise for the qualification

Emma Sutton-Thompson is a Practice Manager in the Policy, Performance and Customer Care Team at Halton Borough Council. She completed the qualification in 2016 and said: 

“I wanted the opportunity to consolidate all my experience, knowledge and skills in commissioning. The certificate has given me extensive knowledge and understanding which I will use to strengthen my work at Halton. I now really understand the true meaning of person-centred commissioning for wellbeing and how to engage with users of services to co-design services and improve outcomes.”   

Her employer told us: “We’re delighted that Emma has achieved this. She’s helped change the focus of some work from the development of a strategy for ‘consultation’ to a project of co-design focusing on the needs of a specific group and empowering the whole team to redesign pathways and services – this has made a huge difference to our team.”


Workforce shaping and commissioning for better outcomes

This guide focuses on bringing service commissioners together to ‘analyse, plan, do and review’ the workforce requirements in your local area, to produce a joint service and workforce strategy, or market and workforce position statement. It provides prompts for discussion and can be adapted to your local circumstances. Please note, we’re currently updating this guide so some of the links might not work. Sign up to our enews to keep up-to-date.

Download the guide.

Workforce capacity planning model

This model sets out the key questions that you need to consider, and links you to resources that can help you to look at workforce capacity issues in detail. Please note, we’re currently updating this model so some of the links might not work. Sign up to our enews to keep up-to-date.

Access the model. 


Worked examples for commissioning the workforce to support people with a learning disability and/or autistic people

These worked examples are based on real-life scenarios of people with a learning disability and/or autistic people, who display or are at risk of displaying behaviours which challenge. They explain what workforce that individual needs, what skills and knowledge the workforce needs, and how much this training would cost. If you’re thinking about a population of people in a specific area, you can explore how many people in your area have similar care and support needs to the worked examples, and scale them up to strategically plan and develop the workforce. You can mix and match the examples and draw information from different ones to create your own plan for the person/people that you’re supporting.

Download the worked examples. 

The personal assistant (PA) workforce

More people are choosing to use their personal budget to become an individual employer and employ their own personal assistant(s). An understanding of this growing part of the workforce should form part of your market shaping activities.

Skills for Care can help you to understand the PA market and has resources to support individual employers and those who support them.

Visit the ‘Information hub for individual employers and PAs’.


These approaches put individuals at the heart of adult social care commissioning, to ensure that people can access the care and support that they want and need. 

Our guidance can help you to implement these approaches in your commissioning practice.

Using conversations to assess and plan people’s care and support

Having conversations can help you to find out all sorts of things about people that could be lost if you followed a standard form. Taking this approach in social care assessments can help you to commission services that reflect people’s wishes and needs. This guide outlines the key principles of conversational assessment, to help you to use this approach. 

Download the guide.

Building community capacity using asset and strengths-based approaches

This short guide explains what community-focused thinking is, gives you some top tips about how you can develop the resources in your community and explores how taking a Social Return on Investment approach can help you to measure the benefits of community investment. 

Download the guide. 

Community mapping

We’ve developed this infographic to help you to think about what resources are available in the local community to improve the lives of people who need care and support. This version has some examples already written in, or you can download a blank version to map resources in your local community.

The role of social care in the prevention agenda

Prevention is about helping people to stay healthy, happy and independent for as long as possible. Skills for Care commissioned some research to explore existing literature around, and identify examples of, preventative practices in social care.

We’re using this report with strategic partners to stimulate debate and discussion and explore how the sector can build on and embed best practice. We are conducting further research as the prevention agenda evolves and will share our findings and next steps.

Find out more about this work and download the research report. 


The principles of workforce re-design

When you re-design or re-commission a service, you might need to re-design the workforce, or how people work, to ensure that the required changes are implemented in practice. This guide sets out the key principles that you need to consider to help you to re-design the workforce.

Download the guide.

Recruitment and retention

As the demand for care and support grows, so does the need to recruit and retain more workers to deliver high-quality care and support.

Skills for Care has lots of tools and resources to help employers to recruit and retain people who have the right values to work in adult social care.

Find out more about our resources.

Workforce development

It’s important that people working in adult social care have the right skills and knowledge to provide high-quality care and support.

Skills for Care can help employers to plan, deliver and evaluate learning and development that meets the needs of the people they support.

Find out more about our resources.

Leadership and management

High-quality care and support starts with capable and confident leaders and managers – they ensure that services meet the required standards, set the right culture and inspire others to do a great job.

Skills for Care can help employers to develop their leaders and managers, manage their service and lead high performing teams.

Find out more about our resources.


The Adult Social Care Workforce Data Set (ASC-WDS) is an online data collection service that covers the adult social care workforce in England.

Every local authority in England has an ASC-WDS account which is updated each year. It provides information and trends on employment information, recruitment and retention, demographics, pay, qualification rates and future workforce forecasts.

You can compare the services within your organisation or compare to other local authorities, to help you to make informed and effective decisions, and support the planning and delivery of services in your local area.

Find out how the ASC-WDS can support you.

It’s also a great tool for the services that you work with, and we suggest that you include it in your contract requirements.They can use it to collect information about their workforce and record staff training and qualifications. Having an account also means that they’re eligible to apply for funding for qualifications and learning programmes through the Workforce Development Fund.

Find out more about how the ASC-WDS can support adult social care employers.


Integrated care is about people only having to tell their story once and getting the high-quality care and support that they want and need, in a joined-up and seamless approach.

To do this, social care services, health services, housing organisations and other service providers need to work together to join up the care and support they provide.

The principles of workforce integration

This guide sets out some of the key principles about how people across different organisations can work together to deliver person-centred outcomes. You can use with the local providers that you commission, to support them to work together, or with the organisations that commission in partnership with.

Download the guide.


You can use the ‘Workforce outcomes measurement model’ to define the outcomes, actions and measurement of any workforce change programme. It will help you to measure the impact of workforce investment on the person-centred outcomes that services achieve.

Download the model.